Fraud Alert: Info on Part D Rebate

The Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services, HHS and the Administration on Aging have sent a press release to provide information and increase awareness for the nation’s seniors.

The following is directly from the press release:

“The more we can work together to educate the American people about ways to protect themselves and the health care system from fraud and scams, the better chance we have to protect taxpayer dollars and the Medicare Trust Funds,” said Secretary Sebelius.

“In addition to this outreach and education media campaign, we are working with organizations across the country to ensure seniors know where to turn to get information about the new law and their Medicare benefits.”

“Since early April, we have learned of seniors across the country who are being asked for personal information to help them get a rebate check,” said CMS Acting Administrator Marilynn Tavenner. “Beneficiaries who reach the donut hole will get a check mailed to the same address Medicare uses to send them information now without doing anything special.”

Seniors should be on the look-out for scams where people they don’t know ask them for their personal information in order to get their checks.

This is not how the process will work.

Checks will come directly to beneficiaries who qualify for this benefit under the Affordable Care Act. Seniors or family members should contact us at 1-800-MEDICARE to report any of these types of calls or go to www.stopmedicarefraud.gov to learn more about efforts to fight scams like these.

The first $250 checks are being mailed June 10 to those Medicare beneficiaries who entered the Medicare Part D donut hole, also known as the coverage gap, in the first quarter of 2010 and are not eligible for Medicare Extra Help (also known as the low-income subsidy or LIS).

The donut hole is the period in the prescription drug benefit in which the beneficiary pays 100 percent of the cost of their drugs until they hit the catastrophic coverage. People in the Extra Help program already have assistance with the cost of prescription drugs. Beneficiaries should contact the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov for information about Extra Help.

“Empowering consumers to prevent fraud is essential in preserving the integrity of the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” said Assistant Secretary Kathy Greenlee. “This joint education and outreach campaign will not only protect seniors from fraud and scams but will help protect the Medicare trust fund as well.”

Fight Elder Abuse

Elder abuse either in the form of exploitation; neglect; physical, sexual or emotional harm or abandonment by trusted caregivers can happen to any elder including your own loved one.

Most believe one in ten seniors is affected but due to limited reporting of abuse, which is thought to be only one in five cases, no one is sure exactly how widespread the problem is.

Risk factors include dementia, substance abuse by both victims and caregivers and isolation. More women are affected than men at this time.

The fifth annual World Elder Abuse Awareness day is June 15, 2010.

Agencies across the nation will be scheduling events to make more people aware of signs to look for, ways to report suspected abuse and what to do to prevent abuse.

Movie theaters across the nation will show a trailer called the NCEA Elder Abuse Piece which highlights elder abuse.

According to the National Center for Elder Abuse (NCEA), abuse warning signs include:

  • Physical Abuse ‐ Slap marks, unexplained bruises, most pressure marks, and certain types of burns or blisters, such as cigarette burns
  • Neglect Pressure ulcers, filth, lack of medical care, malnutrition or dehydration
  • Emotional Abuse Withdrawal from normal activities, unexplained changes in alertness, or other unusual behavioral changes
  • Sexual Abuse Bruises around the breasts or genital area and unexplained sexually transmitted diseases
  • Financial Abuse/Exploitation Sudden change in finances and accounts, altered wills and trusts, unusual bank withdrawals, checks written as “loans” or “gifts,” and loss of property

For more information, visit  www.ncea.aoa.gov

Have you seen abuse? Do you suspect someone you know has been abused?

Take action now and learn more.

Assistive Technology – Can You Benefit?

Do you need a little more help to do some of the many things you used to do easily?

Are there tasks that you still want to accomplish on your own but just can’t quite do them?

Help is on the way in the form of assistive technology.

A variety of adaptive devices can help you maintain your independence for as long as possible allowing you to “age in place” without moving to the next level of care too quickly.

There are several different categories of assistive devices that can make a difference from a simple walker to an amplification system for the phone.

  • Home-construction in your home such as building ramps; installing grab bars or reconfiguring doorways to help overcome barriers or recover from an injury, anything to allow you to remain independent in your home
  • Daily activity-devices that help with tasks of daily living such as bathing, eating, grooming, holding, reaching, or toileting. The goal is to remain independent for as long as possible.
  • Mobility-electric wheelchair, walker, cane, wheelchair lift or stair elevator and any device/equipment that allows you to move about safely and independently
  • Communication-telephone amplifiers, hearing aids, auditory receivers, computer devices, alert systems and any device that allows you to send or receive information
  • Sensory enhancements for those with vision or hearing impairments-devices that allow you to engage in your environment such as television captioning, large print documents/books, voice activated devices, bed shaking alarms, magnification, time, travel, writing and reading in Braille and lighted doorbells
  • Therapy-access to all types of therapists to help you recover or regain optimum physical functioning as well as orthotic devices to help you control limbs and joints or amputation sites
  • Switches-allow you to turn on, off or adjust equipment such as air conditioners, computers, lights or answering machines; these can be voice activated or mouth activated

Carefully determine what you need before you purchase any device as most insurance companies and Medicare will not cover these devices unless they are determined to be durable medical equipment (necessary only for those who have an illness or injury and serve a medical purpose).

If you are a veteran, you may be able to receive adaptive devices from VA services. Another source of help is your local area agency for aging services that can often assist you with low-cost equipment.

Ask yourself if this device will help you continue to be independent. Seek the advice of your doctor, medical team, therapist, audiologist or family members. As more older Americans and their families try to remain in their home setting as long as possible, the use of assistive technology can make all the difference.